LIBERTY — When Jean O’Toole’s theater honors class at Liberty High School heard about the devastating flooding throughout Louisiana, they knew that had to do something. So did what they do best — they put on a play.
“Check, Please” was performed at the high school for $2 a ticket and raised $900. Stand alone donations as well as an anonymous “matching” promise brought the total amount to $2,542.
“I am so proud of these kids,” O’Toole said. “They are the ‘dream team,’ this was all their doing.”
The check was presented to the theater class’ counterparts at St. Amant High School in Gonzales, La., via video chat on Friday.
“We had this whole system worked out so we could have this teleconference but it wasn’t working so now we’re doing this on Facetime,” said O’Toole — and then to the students in Gonzales: “Y’all aren’t going to believe this but the news is here taking pictures of my phone!”
O’Toole said she heard the class was in need after reading about it on an online teachers forum.
“They lost everything,” she said. “I saw a post from a theater teacher named Heidi Frederick asking if anyone had old sets of textbooks that were out of date or extra scripts — asking for anything that we might be able to share with them so that when they did get back into their school they would have some kinds of materials to use.
“It was their (Liberty theater students) second day in class and I read them the post and I asked them: ‘What would you do if this happened to us? What if we lost everything, including our theater?’ And they said immediately: ‘We gotta do something.’”
Four 90-minute class periods of preparation later, “Check, please” was preformed to a sold-out crowd.
“It was one of those things where someone would buy a ticket, give $5 and say ‘keep the change.’ It was just an amazing group effort,” O’Toole said.
SDPC information specialist John Eby said that the “icing on the cake” for this fundraiser came when both the author of the play, Jonathan Rand, and his publisher, Playscripts Inc., agreed to let the school perform the play royalty-free.
“I don’t know what’s all going on in Louisiana right now, but I know it’s a mess,” said O’Toole. “She (Frederick) had said that 40 percent of their community lost everything. How could we not help? If these kids take nothing else from me or this class, I want it to be that. In 30 years I want them all to remember this feeling, right now.”
But O’Toole had one more closing comment: “By the way, you all received a test score for that play — you all got A’s.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.